We interview Maria Giannini of Giulio Giannini e Figlio, artistic bookbinding and hand decorated paper artisans since 1856.


Maria represents the 6th generation of the Giannini family. With passion, knowledge of colour, and the ancient art of marbling, together with Guido Junior (fifth generation) they carry on the ancient tradition of the Bottega d’Arte.

Heir to the culture of making and the artisan tradition that has characterized the family for about two centuries, Maria Giannini looks to the contemporary and the future of the company, carrying on a constant dialogue between tradition and innovation.

She enhances the historical heritage of the company by rediscovering and designing a large digital archive.

A contemporary instrument of inspiration, the historical archive is made up of precious testimonies, documents, decorated papers, bindings, ancient punches, and events that the company has created over time, feeding the culture of Florentine artistic craftsmanship and the Tuscan territory.

In the dialectic between handmade values, choice of valuable materials and digital technologies, new strategic visions, and contemporary quality collections that have always distinguished the artisan identity of the Giulio Giannini e Figlio workshop in Italy and around the world take shape.


Questions For Maria Giannini

  1. Your business continues since 1856: what is the secret behind carrying on a family tradition?
  2. Tradition is indeed important, but innovation is also necessary: how do you combine both?
  3. When we talk about tradition, we also talk about land and culture: what’s your connection with Tuscany and Florence?
  4. Beyond tradition, another important element for your business activity is handcrafting: what are the values that craftsmanship conveys to your works?
  5. Talking about craftsmanship, how important is the “Made in Italy” nowadays?
  6. Your business includes workshops: where does the idea of opening up your know-how to people come from?
  7. The workshop activity is for sure a way to stay in close contact with people: what kind of connection do you have with your customers?
  8. What are the main inspirations for the creation of your works?
  9. How important is it for you to offer customization services for your works, such as your books?
  10. What future plans do you expect for your business?

#1. Your business continues since 1856: what is the secret behind carrying on a family tradition?

Passion is for sure the key factor. There have been ups and downs in our business history: moments when we had to adapt to generational changes, historical moments that brought us to change our reference customers.

Passion and adaptability, thanks to the fact that we have been always remained artisans.

The Giulio Giannini “Bottega”, in 1878

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#2. Tradition is indeed important, but innovation is also necessary: how do you combine both?

Nowadays, this remains a huge challenge for us. What is sure is that, if my ancestors had not renewed our business, I would not be here representing the 6th generation.

Innovation has been carried on through little steps: from leather books and photo albums completely hand decorated, we now use a less costly hand-decorated paper, that yet maintains a connection with craftsmanship.

I’m actually working on our historic paper archive, several decoration and punzoni (little iron decorations with symbols and ornaments, from 1300 until the present days) with the aim of applying them to new materials, thanks to our new technologies.

Maria Giannini, working with her tools.

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#3. When we talk about tradition, we also talk about land and culture: what’s your connection with Tuscany and Florence?

Our business activity has witnessed a historic period of 170 years: what we proposed to the English customers was the result of a taste, a sense of the proportions, a typical Florentine soul. And so it has been until now.

However, I think that this process is the result of an ongoing cultural exchange. We are influenced by the fact of being Tuscan and Florentine, we feel the colours, the contrasts, the linguistic expression of the culture.

At the same time, we spread the features, the roots of the Tuscan and Florentine culture through our hand decorated paper, or bookbinding.

The “Giglio”, the representative symbol of Florence.

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#4. Beyond tradition, another important element for your business activity is handcrafting: what are the values that craftsmanship conveys to your works?

In addition to the cultural aspect, there is a personal know how, referred to the passion and love with which the works are done.

An handcrafted product resembles the essence of the original artisan.

Every piece of work in the Giulio Giannini e Figlio Bottega is handmade.

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 #5. Talking about craftsmanship, how important is the “Made in Italy” nowadays?

The importance of the made in Italy is ever-growing. Maybe, it is one of the most important added values that convey to the product unique features, that are part of our beautiful Country.

Giulio Giannini Jr. in the art of bookbinding.

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#6 Your business includes some workshops: where does the idea of opening up your know-how to people come from?

We began 30 years ago to open up our business to people: at the beginning, it was aimed only at a niche of customers, then it has become more and more important. That’s because showing how products are made it is indeed an added value.

Workshop activity in the Giulio Giannini e Figlio Bottega.

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#7 The workshop activity is for sure a way to stay in close contact with people: what kind of connection do you have with your customers?

The workshop activity has always been a thrilling experience for me. For sure it is very tiring because it is a teaching activity, to transmit not only information but also emotions.

A dose of positive energy is needed, empathy, and the skill of adapting to ever-changing situations. However, what I receive in change it is always an enrichment: that’s why I consider the workshop activity a trade-off.

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#8 What are the main inspirations for the creation of your works?

The bond with the past and our tradition play indeed an important role. I think that today it is important remembering our origins, to order to proceed through a new path.

Usually, I get inspired by our heritage, and I try to readapt to modern customers. It is not always easy, as we deal with books and decorated paper, which now are quite not very attractive.

Nevertheless, we have a lot of ideas, always inspired by our heritage and by the Italian History.

Artistic bookbinding, inspired by Italian heritage and history.

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#9 How important is it for you to offer customization services for your works, such as your books?

It is for sure an important added value, as it is what makes a product unique.

Giulio Giannini e Figlio offers a variety of product customization services.

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#10 What future plans do you expect for your business?

Actually, it is a very tough moment. We have to move on and face a new change. And this change could be also a great opportunity.

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We want to thank Maria for answering our questions: we had the opportunity to appreciate a beautiful family tradition, that has been carried on until our days.

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